Reserve Ryan Anderson added 19 points
to help the Magic build a 24-point lead and hold on for their 17th win
in their last 20 games. The Magic swept the season series 3-0 against
the Knicks and geared up for a matchup with top-seeded Cleveland on
Danilo Gallinari had 28 points, and
Chris Duhon had 13 for the Knicks, who have lost six of their last
eight. They trimmed the deficit to eight points early in the fourth
quarter before Orlando again pulled away.
The Magic showed no mercy.
Already secured their third straight
Southeast Division title and the Eastern Conference's No. 2 playoff
seed, they bullied the Knicks from the start. They had fun doing it,
J.J. Redick slashed down the baseline
in the second quarter and finished with a two-handed layup on a dunk
attempt that came up short, bringing the Magic bench players rising in
laughter. Marcin Gortat nearly threw down a one-handed dunk a few plays
later on Gallinari, whose foul caused a miss, highlighting a 14-5 run
in the second quarter that gave Orlando a 19-point lead.
Howard and starters Matt Barnes and
Rashard Lewis were waving their towels smiling at Gortat's
aggressiveness, even refusing to sit back on the bench until he came
over to give high-fives. Gortat did, then sank the free throws.
If the outcome hadn't been decided by
then, it was quickly after the half. Carter started the third quarter
with consecutive 3-pointers, Howard made a pair of hook shots and
Jameer Nelson added a 3-pointer to put the Magic ahead 75-51.
Goodbye, New York.
The Magic can now look ahead to
Sunday's game at Cleveland in what could be a preview of an Eastern
Conference finals rematch. The top two seeds aren't likely to show much
with the playoffs looming next weekend.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown, with his
team already clinching the NBA's best record, has called the remaining
regular-season games "high-level practice." But Magic coach Stan Van
Gundy has made it clear he's not resting his starters.
If only New York had been so lucky.
The Knicks rolled along passively
toward the end of another disappointing season. They had careless
passes, poor defense and — like many teams — no answer inside for
They weren't a welcome guest, either.
Former Magic star Tracy McGrady was
booed every time he touched the ball. He made a 3-pointer to start the
game and then was mostly silent. He finished with six points.
The Knicks trimmed the deficit to
92-84 on Gallinari's layup with 10:04 left with the Magic playing
mostly reserves. Howard returned, and the Magic were quickly back up
McGrady reiterated before the
game that Orlando would be an "attractive" place to return when he
becomes a free agent this summer, an unlikely scenario given the
Magic's salary cap restrictions and depth among other reasons. …
Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni had a comical analogy to describe how the
franchise has been clearing salary cap space to prepare for this
summer, when several All-Stars could test free agency. "We know there's
a fastball coming, and we want to take a swing at it," D'Antoni said.
But, he added, "It might be a changeup. Then we're screwed."
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